How to beat the competition

Friday 16th May, 2014 | 8am-9.30am

7-9 Woodbridge Street,
London, EC1R 0LL.

The competitive landscape is complex and full of red tape from EU procurement to OJEU advertisements. Seemingly more straightforward are design competitions where the practice is judged not simply on turnover or number of staff, but skill. Or at least that’s the theory.

In fact winning a competition takes much more than that.  Even before you’ve read the brief, you’ll need to have assessed if the competition is any good. In other words, is it a bona fide competition which has all the necessary resources in place, or is the client simply looking for ‘ideas’ which won’t result in a building and will leave you seriously out of pocket?

Finding out as much as you can about the client is the first step.  You then need to be sure that the competition will be run properly. While competitions are important for testing new ideas or for practices that are trying to expand into different sectors, if you have no chance of getting on the short-list is it really worth entering in the first place ?

Architects also need to be confident of the judging panel and that they are being assessed by fellow professionals  to ensure of getting decent feedback afterwards.

Malcolm Reading shares his observations on which competitions are worth entering, what makes a successful entry, and how to impress judges in an interview.


Malcolm Reading has been helping clients deliver high profile, design–led projects for over 15 years. He has organised design competitions - both open and private – in a range of sectors and his clients include Nato, the LSE, the Foreign & Commonwealth Office and the Cadogan Estate.He founded Malcolm Reading Consultants in 1996 after 6 years as Director of Design and Architecture at the British Council where he oversaw all investment to redevelop the Council's headquarters worldwide.